Managing Water and Wetlands Based on the Tayal’s Interpretation of Utux and Gaga

Kuoyung Silan Song, Ben LePage*, Wei Ta Fang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Humans first appeared on the planet about 3.5 million years ago and like most biota, they settled near wetlands because of the availability of food and water. The ancestors of our species understood and knew that water, wetlands, and healthy landscapes were essential for life. In Taiwan, the indigenous people have a long history being a part of and managing the natural resources, including wetlands in their respective habitats. Water and wetlands still play a substantial and significant role in the manner that the Tayal, an indigenous group of people in Taiwan use, preserve, care, protect, respect, and share the habitats and natural resources within which they live. The evolution of Taiwan’s tribal cultures, and probably most cultures on the planet are closely entwined with the resources present in each tribe’s habitat, especially water and wetlands. DNA results indicate 2 lineages of people migrated to Taiwan between 11,000 and 26,000 years ago and gave rise to 9 ethnic groups (Tajima et al. 2003). Today 16 indigenous cultures/tribes are recognized with each occupying different regions of Taiwan’s diverse landscape. Each tribe has its own language and culture and occupies its own geographic region, which contributes to Taiwan’s rich cultural history and diversity. The Tayal tribe is one of the larger tribes with about 88,000 people and the Smangus people are a subset of the Tayal tribe with a culture that is at least 6,000 years old. Culturally, the Tayal people consider themselves to be an element of the environment and their culture is defined by their relationship and interactions with the environment, including all of the other biotic, abiotic elements present in their habitats. In this paper we provide an overview of Tayal culture and philosophy, which determines how the Tayal people manage and protect their natural resources, especially water and wetlands following the tenets of Utux and Gaga that comprise the entirety of their core cultural values. The cultural and language variations, nuances, environmental interpretations, and management techniques are specific to tribal groups and differences in geographic location and environmental settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number92
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct


  • Atayal
  • Communication
  • Culture
  • Environmental
  • Gaga
  • Gogan
  • Paradigm
  • Rituals
  • Sbalay
  • Smangus
  • Spirituality
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Sustainability
  • Tayal
  • Utux
  • Water
  • Wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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